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Round bale cleanup

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  • Round bale cleanup

    So what do you do with that circle of nasty, rotting hay that's left over after your horses have eaten what they will of a round bale? Just put another one on top of it? Leave it and move on to a new spot? Rake it up? Burn it?

    I'm leasing a small farm and I hate to leave rings of icky hay all over their paddocks. I don't use a feeder. That's not something my budget will allow.

  • #2
    Move every bale about 15 feet. It (and the manure that comes with it) makes great fertilizer. Drag it with a harrow or spread it with a york rake after you have enough to work with.

    Also, check craiglist for a bale ring. It'll save you 10% or so on your bale usage (based on my expereince, ymmv) and you can usually find a used one for 100$ or so in not too bad condition.
    Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...


    • #3
      I have 2 spots side by side where I rotate the bales. In the spring we burn off what's left. I do use a hay ring which goes a long way to keeping the mess semi contained.
      "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


      • #4
        I set the new bale in a new spot, and then go pick the ring up with the hay spike and put it over the new bale. An 8' landscape rake, that stays on the tractor through hay feeding season, cleans up the old spot and drags it to one location for the manure pile for that season. Grass comes back just fine next spring on the used spots. Pam just tested the two year old pile a couple of weeks ago, and it was perfect for everything on the soil test.


        • #5
          We intentionally left the hay rings with our cows after a study from the government of Saskatchewan showed a SIGNIFICANT increase in the retention of Nitrogen into the surrounding ground caused by the build of manure around the hay.

          As in a 1% retention if you spread the manure out from around a concentrated feed area in the spring vs a 34% retention from winter bale grazing in the field. Anyway, I could go on for awhile so: http://nesfarm.blogspot.com/2011/09/...-browsing.html if you're interested. Obviously you can't be leaving bales out all winter for the horses, they'd all go moldy & nasty. Although if you ask the round tummies around here, they quite enjoyed all the cow hay they got to eat through the wet fall.

          Based on the research they did
          Using alfalfa/grass hay bales that average 1,300 pounds (lb.), current research is suggesting a maximum density of 25 bales per acre. To obtain this density, place bales in a grid on 40-foot centres
          So depending on how much space you've got to use, I'd try to stick to that and just place out more bales so far away.
          "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
          Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
          Need You Now Equine


          • #6
            CAT 236 with a bucket placed into tall central piles to rot until spring then they are spread

            Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
            I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


            • #7
              If you're in good shape, you can spread it around with a pitchfork. Or drag it around with a tractor. Either way, the more surface area you expose, the faster it'll rot down and enrich your pasture. Just get it spread enough you won't hit clumps with the mower in the spring. It's also great for controlling soil runoff (put where you notice muddy water running, it'll filter out the dirt), helping areas reseed with grass, or composting.


              • Original Poster

                Well, I don't have a tractor, so whatever I do, it will have to be done by hand. I don't have a manure pile, because my horses are out 24/7.

                I suppose I could go buy a metal pitchfork and spread it by hand. I could use the workout anyways.


                • #9
                  um... what leftover hay? =) I have a hoover cleaner on 4 legs that is the clean up crew.

                  If by chance, there is any left, I pitchfork it (the metal straw kind) and spread/dump it in a remote location.
                  Come to the dark side, we have cookies


                  • #10
                    Me too!

                    Very little left for me too!! I move my ring and spread it around and let them pick through it, roll on it, sleep on it etc. Eventually I have a grassy area there where the seed dropped. It takes several months to breakdown but eventually you can't tell they were there. Agree they are good to put in run off areas. I prefer moving them around to different locations to spread poop areas that're always nearby.I think a ring is mandatory pretty much!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by OnePerfectRide View Post
                      So what do you do with that circle of nasty, rotting hay that's left over after your horses have eaten what they will of a round bale? Just put another one on top of it? Leave it and move on to a new spot? Rake it up? Burn it?

                      I'm leasing a small farm and I hate to leave rings of icky hay all over their paddocks. I don't use a feeder. That's not something my budget will allow.

                      In true " redneck" fashion i used pallets to ring my round bales, when feeding them this summer. I tied the pallets together all around the bale, as they ate I would remove a pallet as the bale got smaller, keeping them tight and firmly around the bale..

                      I use old hay to mulch around trees and shrubs.


                      • #12
                        We have a hay ring. I move the ring to a new location for each new roll and spread the leftover hay around.

                        A time or two I've had more left over than I like (spring once grass comes in and they decide they can't look at hay) and I've loaded it into the back of the truck or wheel barrow and spread it out or dumped in manure pile.

                        When I did it without a ring, I placed a new bale on top and then at the end of the season I helped my neighbor load the back of his truck with it so he could compost it at his farm for his garden.


                        • #13
                          I have to replace the hay rolls once a week in the pony pastures. You cannot tell where the roll even was after the ponies finish with them. I always take that as a sign of very yummy hay and very piggy ponies.


                          • #14
                            I use a pallet and a hay ring for my bales. When it gets eaten down, I move the ring and new bale to a new location. I scrape up the wasted hay and compost it. I do burn the compost pile at times so I guess it's not true compost but it does eventually turn into very nice dirt.
                            "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com


                            • #15
                              If your budget allows, can you get one of the nets for them? Cinch Chix has them, but they are about $170 right now. They really cut the waste down considerably. They will be a bit of a PIA to put on without a tractor, but it is do-able. Best of all, at least in my experience, I doubled the length of time a bale lasted, which eventually paid for the nets.
                              Make sure you be careful about halters and shoes around them though..


                              • #16
                                Our cleanup is not so much wasted hay, but a ring of manure from seven horses that drop it not far back from where they stand to eat. One sweep with the rake usually gets it, and I drag it to where the pile will be. I just pile it up in a pile when I get around to it when the bucket is on. I just push it backwards some to consolidate it after dragging it to the pile location, but can't do but so much with the rake.